Summary: A sermon with an Australia Day emphasis, that reminds us how God’s light is constantly breaking through darkness to save people.
How was your Australia Day?
How did you spend your Australia Day?
Yesterday I was the official pastor at the Australia Day celebrations for the City of Burnie.
At this event a number of people became citizens of Australia
And one of the things that surprised me, was despite it being a secular event
The citizenship allegiance to Australia began with the following line;
From this time forward, under God,
God has had and continues to have a major influence in Australia
God’s light has shone and continues to shine in many different ways throughout this nation.
And today we are going to look at how God has had an influence on Australia.
Unlike a lot of other countries,
Christianity or religion was not part of the official written master plan for those organising white settlement in Australia.
It was not a high priority.
Admittedly there were chaplains and priests from the very beginning,
however unlike many countries Australia has never had a state church nor was the main reason people came to establish a new colony the influenced by religious conviction.
Despite this Christianity and God are significant in the lives of many Australians and the history of Australia.
Over 70% of the population say they are Christians.
Over 85% of the population say they believe in a higher being.
How did this happen?
Well rather than God working by forcing people to acknowledge him through laws,
God has used and continues to use many individuals and groups to allow His light to shine
and to impact the lives of others throughout Australia.
This is even evident from the very first settlers to arrive in Australia.
On the first fleet amongst the convicts, officials and sailors, two pastors;
Richard Johnson and Samuel Marsden were sent to Australia.
Now Samuel Marsden gained the nickname the flogging pastor, because he had the difficult job of preaching the Gospel of Sunday, then on Monday he was required to act as a judge.
His true allegiance came to bear later in life when the opportunity arose he left Australia and moved to New Zealand so he could focus on mission work, the work of sharing the Gospel.
Johnson was the senior chaplain.
He was actually encouraged by two people many Christians know well to join that First Fleet to Australia.
Isaac Watts and John Newton.
These two people were part of a group that first persuaded a reluctant British government at the time that it would be a good idea to have a chaplain as part of the first fleet and secondly persuaded Richard Johnson to be that chaplain.
Now despite the difficulties they knew they would face
and that many of the people on board the first fleet were criminals and if they weren’t criminals they had shady backgrounds and questionable motives
Pastors Johnson and Marsden trusted that God was above all trouble,
all difficulties and
In fact they held a strong conviction that the very people God wanted to help were these people
and the natives not only of Australia but also the South Pacific.
They held the view that God would shine His light throughout the new colony and beyond.
This trust and faith in God drove them beyond their own abilities and helped them overcome the many limitations.
Some of these limitations could have hindered God’s light being seen.
Officially Pastors Johnson and Marsden were to take 1 bible each.
However somehow they managed to sneak on board 4200 Christian books, including bibles, new testaments, sermons and other literature.
I can just about imagine the scene, Johnson and Marsden carrying suitcases and trunks on board the ship saying, oh its just a few clothes.
You could see how important this mission was to them.
They went above and beyond what was expected.
What about you are you prepared to go above and beyond what is expected to share God’s good news with your family and friends?
Now the journey to Australia on the small ships was difficult.
People died, people got ill, and remember when they got here they started from scratch.
There were no toilets, no fridges, no playgrounds.
In fact there were no buildings.
Everything they had to build from scratch or bring with them.
Life was difficult.
These Englishmen and Irishmen arrived in Australia in the middle of summer.
Now remember for them anything above 18 degrees Celsius was considered hot.
And it was probably around the 30s.
For many of them it was a lot hotter than they had ever experienced.
Some of them probably thought this was hell.
But they couldn’t sit around
They were required to franticly unload ships
and to get the new settlement started.
Some of them must have wondered what had they got themselves into, especially those who were not convicts.